As we think of health and safety teaching, how deliberate and explicit are we?
It's a good idea to do the following:
- Invite the local fire educator in earlier than later to discuss fire safety.
- Invite the local law enforcement educator to come in early to discuss safety related to where your students live.
- Work with the school health teacher to make sure you have a good, developmental program related to physical health including health related to good nutrition, drugs/alcohol abuse prevention, physical fitness, cleanliness, and more.
- Work with technology teachers to discuss cybersecurity and the best ways to teach safe digital skills and savvy.
- Think with your team about the dangers students face in your school area. Where I teach, the following topics are important to teach:
- Stranger safety - generally don't engage strangers unless an adult is with you (this requires a good discussion)
- Water safety - don't swim alone
- Ice safety - don't walk on ice without a parent's permission
- Street safety - be very careful crossing streets since many drivers are not paying attention, look a driver in the eye before you cross and make sure they are stopped. Cross at crosswalks when possible.
- Bike safety - wear a helmet, pay attention. . . .
- Body safety - we have a great sexual abuse prevention/reporting program at our school
- Physical/Emotional safety - no one has a right to hurt you physically or emotionally
- Cigarette/Drug/alcohol abuse prevention - it's important to talk to children about this as they get older, and make clear how easy it is to become addicted and how to stay clear of that
- Sex Trafficking - it's important that older elementary school children understand this topic and the way children often get tricked into this online. Most communities can point to examples of this occurring with fairly young students.
- Fire safety - never fool with fire, always have a parent's permission and assistance with fire.
- Gun safety - never play with guns. If there's an unlocked gun at a house, leave that home and tell a trusting adult right away.
We don't want to scare students, but we do want to make them aware of the dangers that exist in their own communities. It's better to have an attitude of prevention than ignoring threats that could occur. Throughout my tenure as a teacher, I've noted a number of troubling events that have happened to children. In general, the saddest events involved street/bike safety, playing with fire, being alone in a deserted area, and trusting individuals via the Internet.
Fortunately, I've also heard a number of stories about children who know what to do to be safe--stories of gun safety, water safety, Internet safety, and physical/emotional health safety.
Parents and educators have a responsibility to teach children how to be safe in the environments where they live and play. Accidents will happen, but they will happen a lot less if we make a deliberate effort to teach students how to be safe.